Storm cleanup along Hwy 371 in Nisswa
MnDOT maintenance crews assist with clearing trees along Hwy 371 in Nisswa after a strong storm hit the Brainerd Lakes area Sunday evening, July 12, leaving many roads impassable with fallen trees and powerlines. Photos by Todd Fussy and Jenny Seelen
New Hwy 95 bridge opens in Cambridge
Photo by Chad Balfanz, MnDOT construction
The newly constructed Hwy 95 bridge over the Rum River in Cambridge opened to traffic on May 28, 2015.
The new $6 million bridge will improve safety with wider shoulders and updated lighting, and provide smoother pavement near the Rum River.
New diverging diamond interchange opens in Sartell/St. Cloud
The newly constructed Hwy 15 and CR 120 diverging diamond interchange in Sartell and St. Cloud opened to traffic on Oct. 17. Motorists will experience a smoother traffic flow and easier access to local roads and businesses.
The interchange is the second diverging diamond design to open in Minnesota, and the first that is fully functional with traffic signals.
Photo by Rob Abfalter, MnDOT Field Inspector
The interchange uses lanes that cross over at each end of the bridge to eliminate left-hand turns across opposing traffic.
The interchange also features an integrated programmable signal system. Traffic signals are located at the crossovers at each end of the bridge and where the ramps intersect. The system allows traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross and navigate County Road 120 bridge over Hwy 15.
“When you eliminate the left turn across opposing traffic, you eliminate one of the more dangerous traffic movements a motorist makes any given day,” said Sue Groth, State Traffic Engineer. “By eliminating that movement and programming the signal system to accommodate the new traffic flow, we expect to see strong long-term improvements in both safety and mobility at this site.”
The $10 million project was constructed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), in partnership with Stearns County and the cities of Sartell and St. Cloud.
The area had been rapidly developing over the years. New healthcare facilities and retail businesses have increased the amount of traffic, which warranted the development of this project.
To learn more on how to navigate a diverging diamond visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d3/hwy15ddi/
Four-lane expansion of Hwy 23 opens to traffic
The Hwy 23 four-lane expansion project from Hwy 95 east of St. Cloud to Hwy 25 in Foley opened to traffic on Friday, Nov. 2.
Photo by Rob Abfalter, MnDOT Field Inspector
The two year, eight mile, $26 million project, included realigning six intersecting roads; replacing city curbs, gutters, storm/sanitary sewers, water mains and other utilities; upgrading the intersection of Hwy 23/Hwy 25; and resurfacing Hwy 23 through Foley east of Hwy 25.
Mainline concrete paving began in mid-September and was completed on Wednesday, Oct. 10 (photo left). The remaining three weeks crews, finished paving the shoulders and road connections.
About a mile of the old Hwy 23 alignment has been connected to a frontage road in Foley. This segment will be turned over to Benton County in November 2013.
Chutes installed on district fleet
In 2010, MnDOT District 3 Maintenance, Baxter, hosted a statewide Winter Maintenance Chemical and Application Research testing project. Chutes were one of the pieces of equipment tested in delivering chemicals to the road surface. Chutes were found to be effective in reducing the bounce-and-scatter of salt chemicals.
The research concluded that chutes are low cost and can help reduce environmental impacts, chemical waste, improve delivery, and reduce snow and ice costs. With these findings, MnDOT District 3 decided to attach chutes (photo right) on all snow plow fleet.
Living snow fences assist in reducing snow and ice build-up on road surfaces
Approximately 3,800 sites have been identified in Minnesota to be problem snow drift road sites, including on Hwy 84 north of Pine River where a Living Snow Fence (LSF) was planted in Spring 2012.
Landowners who maintain LSF's are usually under a 10 or 15 year contract with the State, and receive a yearly rental payment and an inconvenience fee per acre.
In addition, they may also qualify for federally funded USDA farm programs. The MnDOT District contact for the LSF program is Mandy Uhrich, maintenance operations, and she may be reached at 218-828-5772.
Uhrich is very knowledgeable in this area; she used to work as a Wildlife Conservation Technician for the USDA Conservation Reserve Program in Pope County. She assisted farmers and landowners in applying and designing different types of conservation buffers.
The planted Hwy 84 LSF was 525 ft long and consisted of 110 White Spruce conifers and 125 Chokeberry shrubs. In spring 2013, another fence will be planted along Hwy 47 north of Glen. The 1,100 ft long fence will consist of Norway and White Spruce trees and Chokeberry bushes.
2012 construction season wraps-up
Survey provides snap-shot of motorist seatbelt use
East Central Minnesota’s new seat belt compliance rate is 85.1%, according to the area’s first seat belt use survey, conducted by area traffic safety advocates for the first time this year.
The observational survey was conducted in August and data was collected from the twelve East Central Minnesota counties consisting of Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wright.
The regional seat belt surveys are a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) cornerstone traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
Statewide belt use is a record high 93.6 percent, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Officials stress that the regional surveys are unrelated to the statewide survey and cannot be compared to the statewide results. The statewide survey provides a comprehensive gauge of belt use by measuring counties where 85 percent of the state’s road deaths occurred on average during the past three years, while the regional surveys have a smaller sample size and aim to provide an additional snapshot of belt use to measure local progress.
By Judy Jacobs, Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Coordinator
Central Minnesota’s population and economic growth warranted the need to explore additional transportation alternatives to accommodate the needs of commuters. District 3 conducted a Commuter Needs Study to determine how best to improve the area’s public transit, park-and-rides, and car pool programs.
The focus area included 12 counties in central Minnesota:
The 2012 study includes an extensive inventory of existing services and programs. Public outreach was an integral part in gathering input; this included phone surveys, interviews, open houses and focus groups.
Dan Anderson selected as district engineer for MnDOT District 3
Dan Anderson has been selected to serve as district engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 3, which encompasses 13 counties in central Minnesota.
Dan Anderson, District 3 Engineer
“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve MnDOT and the citizens of Minnesota in the role as district engineer for District 3,” Anderson said. “I will continue to work to support MnDOT employees in providing a high quality, dependable transportation system for the citizens of Minnesota. We will continue to hold safety as a high priority for our employees and the people who travel our roadways.”
Anderson began his career with MnDOT as a graduate engineer in 1983. Since then he has served in a number of key positions, including hydraulic design and traffic engineering. Anderson also served as project engineer and resident engineer in construction for the former District 9/Metro district. He was promoted to area maintenance engineer with District 3 in St. Cloud and has served in that position since 1997.
"Dan has experience with central Minnesota that will help him excel as the new District 3 district engineer,” said MnDOT Operations Division Director, Mike Barnes. "He has built great working relationships with our central Minnesota transportation partners, local communities and district employees and will continue to build and expand on those relationships in his new position.”
District 3 has two full service offices, located in Baxter and St. Cloud, and maintains over 1,600 miles of highway and more than 400 bridges. District 3 employs approximately 360 people to handle snow and ice control, roadway construction, traffic, land acquisition, business operations, planning, design, and other transportation-related duties.
Anderson has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota. He graduated from Brainerd High School in 1975 and lives in St. Cloud with his wife Lisa, and has three daughters, Natalie, Erin and Justine.
Paynesville bypass opens to traffic
The newly constructed Hwy 23 concrete four-lane Paynesville bypass from Kandiyohi CR 6 to 263rd Ave in Stearns County opened to traffic in July 2012.
District 8, Willmar, designed and constructed the eight-mile project which is located and maintained by District 3, Baxter/St. Cloud.
Photo by St. Cloud bridge
The project included nine new bridges/interchanges:
Paynesville truck station employees will now plow snow on 47 lane miles of roadway verses 25.
Old Hwy 23 through Paynesville will be turned over to Stearns County in the spring of 2013. The county has agreed to plow this segment this winter season.
Plans for Hwy 10 interchange at Benton CR 2 in Rice
Hwy 371 construction project in Nisswa
In July 2012, MnDOT, in partnership with Crow Wing County and the city of Nisswa, will begin to construct a $7 million project (MnDOT share $4.2 million), that will improve safety, mobility and road accesses.
Work crews will:
- Reconstruct four-lanes of Hwy 371, includes turn lanes and accesses - COMPLETED
- Relocate the signalized intersection at Hwy 371/Crow Wing CR 18 one-quarter mile south - COMPLETED
- Construct a new Crow Wing CR 18 connection to northeast of Nisswa, includes a roundabout at Smiley Rd - COMPLETED
- Install a pedestrian tunnel underneath Hwy 371 to the future Nisswa Lake park
- Reconstruct Smiley Rd and new connection - COMPLETED
- Install curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm and sanitary sewers, and other utilities
- Install four storm water holding ponds - COMPLETED
- Realign connections to Paul Bunyan Trail - COMPLETED
Staging, traffic impacts
The entire two-year project was completed by spring 2014.
Highway 371 will be expanded to a four lane divided highway in 2016-2017 between Nisswa and Jenkins. The project includes a new connection and interchange at CR 11 in Pequot Lakes.
Stabilized reclamation road resurfacing
New base materials exit the reclamation machine.
In 2010, a $7.2 million Hwy 65 resurfacing project was completed from Mora to Woodland (17 miles). This district project is used a construction process called Stabilized Reclamation.
The district received $4.2 million in federal funding to do the stabilized reclamation on Hwy 65, which was programmed to be a mill and overlay project.
Crews ground and mixed the old pavement surface with gravel and added a stabilizing agent to strengthen the recycled (reclaimed) pavement materials. A new thin layer of blacktop is then paved over the reclaimed surface.
In the long run this process saves money. Iit provides a longer lasting pavement life than a typical mill and overlay project. Fewer, if any cracks, will appear in the new road surface with this process.
In Depth: Stabilized Reclamation Road Train Operation
MnROAD Test Section
In July, traffic was switched off a test section of I-94 to allow crews to install reinforcing dowel rebar in between concrete section joints. The concrete dates back to the 1970's and the dowel bars that were installed have deteriorated to a point of being ineffective. Due to this, the overall ride was very bumpy.
The quarter-mile test project will assist in controlling concrete movements at the joints which is caused by Minnesota's seasonal changing temperatures and traffic loads.
Crews first sawed and hammered out three 18" lengths of concrete in each of the right lane tire treads. The new epoxy-coated rebar was then placed onto a foam stand in the cutout sections.
The reason the rebar is placed on foam stands is to ensure that the newly poured concrete will completely surround the rebar.
It is hoped that through constructing this research section, future dowel bar retrofit type repairs will be deemed cost effective on older concrete road pavements.
The $45,000 project was funded by the Destination/Innovation Fund administered by Central Office.
Paving a Greener Way on Hwy 169
A warm mix asphalt material was used and tested on Hwy 169 from Aitkin to Garrison. The project is being partially funded by Central Office Innovation and Destination funding.
"Warm mix asphalt hasn't yet been used or tested on higher volume roadways in the district, which made it an ideal candidate for the Hwy 169 project," said Tony Kempenich, materials engineer.
Warm mix asphalt materials are produced at a lower temperature around 235°F degrees versus the usual 310°F degrees. This is accomplished by using an asphalt additive, in this case Evotherm, to the oil mixed in the pavement materials. The additive acts as a lubricant for assisting in the densification of the asphalt, which is a critical factor in long-term performance.
- Lessens the wear and tear on hot mix equipment due to its lower processing temperatures
- Allows higher percentages of recycled asphalt materials to be utilized
- Allows asphalt application at a temperature that is 200°- 230°F
- Traffic is returned immediately after compaction
- Reduces emissions of fumes to the environment and onsite workers
Theoretically, asphalt produced at lower temperatures will reduce the oxidation of the recycled bituminous materials made in the new mix. The pavement should then last longer and crack much less, which will reduce overall costs.
Northstar Commuter Rail service
On Monday, Nov. 16, 2009 the state's first commuter rail line began passenger service, and 2,400 people rode the 40-mile rail route between Big Lake and Minneapolis.
Metro Transit is operating the commuter service that has trips in the morning and evening weekday rush hours, as well as regular weekend and some special events (ex: Vikings games).
A public opening celebration was held at the Target Field station in Minneapolis. The event included riding the train and touring each of the Northstar stations.
Two stations are located in District 3--Big Lake and Elk River; other stops include Anoka, Coon Rapids/Riverdale, Fridley and Target Field.
This fall, a new park-n-ride lot was constructed in east St. Cloud right off Highway 10, and a Northstar Link Commuter bus/route was added to the St. Cloud Metro Transit system to provide service to Big Lake. The 'Catch the Link' bus stops at the park-n-ride lot, downtown metro station, and SCSU. Tickets, schedule, stops
The Big Lake Station features a steel sculpture entitled The Commuters by artist Parker McDonald.
In December, one of the trains leaving Target Field broke down and 120 passengers were taken by two buses to the suburb stations. The culprit was a faulty part that sends signals to the locomotive engine. Crews replaced the part in all five trains at the maintenance facility located in Big Lake.
During the first 15 days of operation, the train carried 33,112 passengers. Daily ridership in November averaged 2,207 compared to a 2010 daily average goal of about 2,460.
In January, in response to customer requests, Metro Transit added overnight parking in the park-and-ride lots at Northstar's suburban rail stations. The six-month pilot program designates up to 10 spaces each at the Big Lake, Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids-Riverdale and Fridley stations. The designated spaces are available for overnight parking only with each car permitted to occupy the space for no longer than seven days at a time.
The $317 million project was delivered on time and below budget and was a joint effort of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority, the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Counties Transit Improvement Board and Sherburne County assist with operating funds. Photos by David Gonzalez
Kurt Stachowski, Elk River truck station, shared safe driving tips with students at Lifetime Skills Driver's Education program in Elk River. Photo by Judy Jacobs
Students learn valuable Work Zone safety tips
The program is offered to promote safe driving in winter and summer highway work zones. The presentation is aimed at driving tips and suggestions on what motorists should do when encountering snowplows, but other segments give advice on how to safely maneuver through summer highway construction zones.
Each MnDOT presenter will share personal experiences from his or her years of service on the roads in highway work zones. A short quiz is also offered to aid learning. As an added benefit, arrangements can be made to have a fully equipped MnDOT snowplow truck available at your presentation.
It's free! There is no cost for the Safety Awareness multi-media program which can be geared for any age grouppre-elementary to senior citizens. Its proven to be perfect for Drivers Education classes.
There are speakers located throughout central Minnesota. We can accommodate groups of any sizelarge or small.
If you are interested in scheduling a safety presentation for your class or community group or have questions, please contact: JP Gillach, District 3 Program Coordinator, at 218-828-5706 or 800-657-3961.
Call to schedule a presentation for your class group today!
HAWK pedestrian signal system
A new system is installed on Highway 23/Division Street in St. Cloud at 12th Avenue and is referred to as the HAWK (High Intensity Activated Crosswalk), designed to make their crossing safer and more effective than conventional crosswalks.
The HAWK traffic signal display provides a unique shape that immediately identifies a traffic signal as a pedestrian crossing. The traffic signal head remains dark until the pedestrian button has been pressed. Motorists are alerted by a flashing yellow light, then a steady yellow light when the HAWK system has been activated. When a steady red light is displayed, motorists are expected to stop to allow the pedestrian to cross.
Pedestrians press the button when they want to cross, and obey the pedestrian indicators used on standard signal systems.
This safety project is a result of a partnership with the city of St. Cloud and MnDOT.
The HAWK system is the first to be installed in the Midwest!
Photo by Jenny Seelen
Cured-in-place culverts used on Hwy 169
Normally, you have to close the road and set up a detour to replace a centerline culvert. However, on Hwy 169 south of Milaca, crews continued paving operations above as workers installed a cured-in-place flexible pipe liner below.
Here's how they install one:
The material has a strong smell, similar to a fiberglass boat manufacturer. An advantage to the flexible liner is that it fills in all extra spaces - every curve, crack and cranny.
Cured-in-place pipelines form a much smoother surface than concrete by eliminating joints which increases flow capacity, prevents root intrusion and environmental corrosion, while stopping leaks.
This is the first time the district has used this technology.
Photos by Jenny Seelen
High visibility stripping
In August, crews completed the unbonded concrete overlay project on southbound Hwy 169.
Unique two-toned striping was installed featuring two black strips outside the main white one. The stripping enhances the motorists' overall ability to see the roadway markings.
Photo by Jenny Seelen
MnDOT employees undergo
snowplow simulator training
Kevin Hoge, Aitkin truck station, demonstrates driving in the simulator. Photo by Judy Jacobs
The State's MnDOT snowplow driving simulator, that's housed in a semitrailer, visited both the St. Cloud and Baxter offices for training.
Each year, all district snowplow operators attend the refresher four-hour training course that consists of both classroom and hands-on driving in the simulator.
The simulation system is contained in a mobile 47' tri-axle semi trailer.
The onboard electronics needs are served by a 40 KW diesel powered generator which operates the simulators, the advanced environmental controls, the operators console, and the system peripherals.
There are two simulator terminals contained in this mobile system and each terminal consists of: Three-42" plasma screens that give a 270 degree field of vision
A changeable dash screen to represent the onboard controls of different types of vehicles
The operators computer console tracks both drivers performances, and assists the trainer to adjust the different scenarios. Photo by Jenny Seelen
A touch screen that allows the Trainee to raise and lower the plow and the wing, turn on headlights, turn on the sander, shift an automatic pushbutton transmission, and control a three position "Jake Brake"
Each simulator is driven by a high performance main frame computer along with three additional, integrated, support computers that control and produce the graphics of the five screens.
The two simulators can be operated either independently of each other or in a linked scenarioexample gang plowing.
Both simulators are controlled and operated by a trainer at the operators computer console. This controls the various and changing environments that the simulators are programmed to being operated in. It controls the road surface, weather, other vehicles, operator condition, and vehicle problem occurrences. The trainer can rapidly customize the training experience a myriad of specially tailored eventstire blowout, fog, ice, etc.
Besides the pair of snowplow operator simulator systems, the unit also has a pair of automobile/pickup
Simulator stations so that additional training can be conducted for anyone who operates any type of MnDOT vehicle. These will be incorporated into a future Defensive Driving training protocol.
A typical class consists of eight trainees and takes approximately four hours to complete.
Tow plow technology
MnDOT District 3 has two tow plows for snow removal use on I-94 and two-and four-lane highways in the Monticello and St. Cloud metro areas.
The tow plow is a trailer- mounted plow which is pulled and operated from a snowplow. It operates at any angle up to 30 degrees and is capable of plowing snow at normal plowing speeds of 30-40 mph. The 26 foot wide plow gives the operator the ability to move snow efficiently and safely from two lanes of roadway in one pass.
States Ted Foss Move Over law includes highway workers, vehicles
Updated September 2010
The state law that requires drivers on multi-lane highways to move one lane away from emergency vehicles on the roadway or shoulder also includes road repair vehicles.
The law was named in honor of State Patrol officer Ted Foss who was killed in 2000 by an errant driver during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 in Winona County.
Department officials said the change is needed due to the increasing number of crashes that involve highway workers performing construction, maintenance or emergency repair work.
The law requires motorists to move at least one lane away from emergency vehicles with emergency lights activated, said State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson.
Motorists who cannot safely move over should safely reduce their speed, he said. Failure to take these actions can result in a traffic ticket. In one recent incident on Interstate 94 near Monticello, a truck driver veered into an inside lane where pothole repair work was underway.
The truck passed by two MnDOT guard vehicles before it crashed into a pickup truck and a SUV. Fortunately, the truck went into the ditch before it could reach workers on the ground. There were no injuries reported.
During the last three years, the State Patrol has issued more than 1,000 Move Over citations.
Law enforcement, emergency responders and road crews serve to keep roads safe for the motoring public, Peterson said.
Its the responsibility of motorists to pay attention to ensure the safety of those performing what are often life-saving duties on the states highways.